Jun 27th, 2010 10:07 PM UTC
By Kimberly Hunter
Every year, approximately 350,000 mothers die from complications during child birth and 8.8 million children die before their fifth birthday. We are desperately off track to achieving the Millennium Development Goals on child and maternal health and expectations were high for the G8 summit to deliver results.
Yesterday, the G8 announced the Muskoka Initiative on maternal, newborn, and child health. Although Canada deserves some credit for putting maternal and child health in the developing world on the G8 agenda this weekend, world leaders have not done enough to truly turn the tide on this vital issue.
At ONE, we campaigned for a robust maternal and child health initiative at this year’s G8 summit and for it to be accompanied by a concrete accountability framework. We also delivered a petition signed by more than 60,000 of you to world leaders to push them to deliver for the world’s more vulnerable – mothers and children.
While we were disappointed in the total G8 pledge of $5 billion to the Maternal and Child Health Initiative, our efforts elevated this issue, raised awareness, and will raise the bar for world leaders to address this and the other Millennium Development Goals at the UN Summit in September.
Jun 24th, 2010 5:40 PM UTC
By Brie O'Keefe
Yesterday, ONE’s Mark Entwistle delivered our 58,000 signature strong petition calling for 3.5 million new health workers to help mothers and children to the Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa, Canada.
Unfortunately, photographs aren’t allowed within the Langevin Building, but we have it on good assurance that shortly after this photo was taken Mark was in the building to hand off the wishes of ONE members to the Canadian government.
This delivery presented some unique scheduling difficulties – on the eve of the G8, most senior members of the Canadian government are en route to Hunstville, Ontario, far away from the media centre for civil society organisations in Toronto where ONE will be based during the summit. So if we wanted to make sure the G8 heard our message before meeting, we needed to do it now, in Ottawa. But scheduling wasn’t easy given that the Prime Minister’s Office had quite a bit on their plates.
Luckily it all worked out for the best. In fact, it almost appeared that the fates were conspiring to test our resolve in delivering our petition as 20 minutes before the delivery Ottawa was hit by an earthquake which caused all parliamentary and government offices to be evacuated!
During the summit ONE will be on the ground, fighting to make sure this G8 has the strongest outcome possible for people living in poverty. We’ll be keeping you updated through our blog and twitter – so watch this space!
Jun 22nd, 2010 10:25 AM UTC
By Brie O'Keefe
When model Liya Kebede recently returned to her home country Ethiopia, she was shocked by the statistics on maternal health: 94% of women still give birth at home without a trained attendant, with more than 300,000 women dying each year around the world in pregnancy and childbirth.
Liya was kind enough to share this video diary of her trip with ONE:
ONE is running a petition ahead of the G8 meeting in Canada this week asking for a commitment of 3.5 million new health workers for countries who need them, like Ethiopia. It shouldn’t be a woman’s lucky day to survive childbirth.
To learn more about Liya’s work at The Liya Kebede Foundation, visit www.theliyakebedefoundation.org
Jun 16th, 2010 11:25 AM UTC
By Brie O'Keefe
On June 3, ONE hosted a parliamentary reception at the National Gallery in Ottawa, Canada to raise awareness on maternal and child mortality ahead of the G8 in Muskoka later this month. Featuring a special appearance by model and activist Christy Turlington-Burns, we showed a clip of her new documentary No Woman, No Cry.
Ottawa-based ONE member Kirika Bussell attended the screening, and sent us this great photo and blog update:
People often advocate for a cause because of a direct link to a situation, or because we know someone who has been affected. It was her health scare following the birth of her first child that prompted Christy Turlington-Burns to learn about and then advocate for maternal and child health. She survived a common post-partum complication because of timely access to quality medical treatment, but not all women are so fortunate. It was this experience that inspired No Woman, No Cry.
Every minute a woman dies from preventable complications during pregnancy or birth. What is stopping us from keeping these preventable deaths occurring again and again? If the answer lies in education, compassion and understanding, then Ms. Turlington Burns has made the job of spreading the message more accessible, and more importantly, she has put a human face on what could simply be seen as another sad statistic.
At the screening I was fortunate enough to speak with Christy Turlington Burns about the concept that we all have a stake in the future of maternal and child health. She agreed that it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, a father or mother, or if you’re childless- this is a universal issue.
When I volunteered to assist with the ONE’s screening at the National Gallery, one of my goals was to help maximize the opportunity to generate interest and keep the issue moving. Reflecting on this event after the fact, I can say my interest in this issue has only grown the more I’ve learned. I hope other ONE members come to feel the same way. Everyone’s reasons to act are different, but when we do act, together we can act as ONE voice for proactive, comprehensive change. The future is ours, but the choice to act is yours.
Kirika M. Bussell, Ottawa, Canada
If you’d like a sneak peak at Christy’s documentary, visit www.everymothercounts.org.
To sign ONE’s petition to the G8 for 3.5 million new health workers go to:
Jun 14th, 2010 4:35 PM UTC
By Brie O'Keefe
Last week a couple of ONE staffers attended the Women Deliver conference in Washington D.C. In what was arguably the world’s largest conference on maternal health and empowerment in more than a decade. The 3 day event was essentially a global gathering to share stories, best practice and calls to action on the prevention of maternal deaths around the world.
It was at Women Deliver that Melinda Gates stressed the importance of maternal and child health as a global health priority.
At the conference we met Awatif Altayib Mohamad Hussein, a midwife from Sudan who was kind enough to share her story with us.
Jun 7th, 2010 8:18 PM UTC
By Melinda French Gates
I’m speaking at the Women Deliver conference in Washington, D.C., today to highlight maternal, child, and reproductive health as a global priority.
Three months ago, I traveled to a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where I met a young mother named Rukmini. Six days before, she’d given birth to a daughter she named Durga, after the Hindu goddess of power.
According to custom, Rukmini and Durga remained in the same room after the birth. Seven days later, Rukmini carried Durga into the light of day for a ceremony that celebrated the special bond between mother and child, called Chhathi. As their neighbors drummed and sang songs, Rukmini held Durga up to thank the sun god for a healthy birth and ask for his blessing.
I kept thinking about the overwhelming joy, hope, and optimism I felt when each of my three children was born. No matter who you are, no matter where you live, it is incredibly moving to hold a healthy baby in your arms.
But tens of millions of women never get to experience that moment of beauty. For these women, childbirth is filled not with joy, but with dread, pain, and sorrow. They know they might die during delivery. If they survive, they are terrified their baby might die.
The world is now coming together to save the 350,000 mothers and 3 million newborns who die every year. At Women Deliver, we are nurturing a vision that is changing the world.
We can make a new world for mothers like Rukmini. When she hugs her daughter Durga, she holds the future in her hands.
In the comments below, please share what you are going to do to bring about this vision of the world.
For more information, go to the foundation’s Women Deliver page or the Women Deliver website. In this recent blog post, I share more of what I’ve seen around the world, the success stories in Malawi and India, and the foundation’s approach to saving women’s and children’s lives.
-Melinda French Gates
Jun 2nd, 2010 3:51 PM UTC
By Nora Coghlan
The Canadian Press reported over the weekend that Canada is planning to pledge $1 billion towards an initiative on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) at this month’s G8 summit.
Heather Scoffield of CP writes: “The federal government is telling other G8 countries that Canada is willing to put about $1-billion toward maternal and child health – as long as other countries ante up too. The Canadian cash will likely target poor countries with the worst records of maternal and child mortality and malnutrition.”
Although the initiative has been in discussion since Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced in January that he would champion maternal and child health at the summit, with less than a month until the G8 summit few details have been outlined. To ensure that the initiative delivers results for women and children around the world, Canada and the rest of the G8 should take this opportunity to outline an action plan for maternal, newborn and child health with clear objectives and how the G8 will ensure that promises made at the summit are kept in the months and years ahead.
Last month, ONE released its own set of recommendations for the G8, including a call for a robust, results-based initiative to improve maternal, newborn and child health in the world poorest countries.
For maximum impact, new resources for maternal and child health should be channeled through effective bilateral and multilateral mechanisms (especially the Global Fund and the Global Alliance for Vaccines Initiative) and delivered in an integrated, coordinated manner that supports national health plans and works towards ambitious targets such as the recruitment of 3.5 million health care workers, universal access to basic immunization (including new vaccines for rotavirus and pneumococcal disease), and the elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV by 2015.
In addition, any new initiatives by the G8 and G20 must incorporate accountability safeguards to ensure that new commitments are kept. As a champion of accountability within the G8, Canada has the opportunity to demonstrate how an MNCH initiative will pilot a new era of accountability by the G8 and the G20. The TRACK principles, a guide developed by ONE and its partners call for commitments to development to be Transparent, Results-oriented, clear about the degree of Additionality and Conditionality, and monitored by an independent mechanism to ensure the promises are being Kept.
If the $1 billion figure is accurate, in the coming days Canada should clarify how it meets the TRACK principles – including where the money will be spent, the timeframe it will be delivered, interim targets and the outputs it intends to achieve – and encourage other donors to do the same to ensure that any new initiative includes both ambition and accountability.
Apr 30th, 2010 4:36 PM UTC
By Brie O'Keefe
Earlier this week G8 development ministers met for a crucial round of planning and negotiations on a maternal and child health initiative they will announce this summer at the G8 summit in Muskoka, Canada. At the top of the agenda: how to best address the global problem of 8 million plus children around the world still dying before their fifth birthday.
ONE ran a petition ahead of the meeting encouraging Canada, as host of the G8, to create a plan that was as ambitious and effective as possible. Any initiative to tackle maternal and child mortality must be specific, results-based and ambitious, with new funding for key global health initiatives.
The goal of the petition was demonstrate public support for the initiative and to encourage the G8 to be as visionary as possible. Find out more about the specifics of what ONE thinks a good G8 maternal and child health initiative would look like.
On 28 April ONE member Jana Henderson met with Canadian Minister for International Cooperation, Bev Oda, to hand over the 9,000+ signature-strong petition. Jana said:
“Today could not have gone any more smoothly. While we waited to meet Minister Oda I saw all the ministers for the G8 countries milling around me. We then had a quick handover with Bev Oda herself. It was the opportunity of a lifetime and I couldn’t have asked for any better treatment from those at the G8.”
At the close out of the meeting, the G8 released a joint statement recognising maternal and under-five health as a ‘top priority’ along with a statement of principles which should guide the final product. ONE will continue working with decision makers across the G8 in the lead up to the summit to ensure that the specifics of the initiative reflect our priorities.
Apr 20th, 2010 2:55 PM UTC
By Brie O'Keefe
On 26 April, G8 development ministers will be meeting in Halifax, Canada, to develop an action plan on maternal, newborn and child health. This builds on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s pledge in January that as president of the G8 in 2010, Canada will use this year’s summit to “champion a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world’s poorest regions.”
For those of us working to fight global poverty, this announcement came as welcome news. Despite improvements in global health in recent years, progress on maternal and child health is still far from where it should be. More than 300,000 mothers still die a year during pregnancy and childbirth and nearly 9 million children die before their 5th birthday.
Yet most of these deaths are the result of preventable and treatable causes. New support for cost-effective, proven interventions could make a dramatic impact on maternal, newborn and child health.
In the past, the G8 has acknowledged the urgent need in maternal and child health along with some of the solutions, but has made few concrete commitments on how it will help African countries make improvements. With Canada’s leadership and public commitment to this issue, 2010 can be the year when the G8 finally takes action.
It’s also an important time for these issues to be highlighted. When African Heads of State meet at the African Union Summit in July they will focus on maternal and child health. In September all global leaders will meet in New York to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and with MDGs on maternal and child health being some of the most off-track, a robust plan from the G8 on this issue could galvanise the international community.
Ahead of the meeting of G8 development ministers in Halifax, ONE is outlining its recommendations to the G8. In order to be effective and to make a real difference in the lives of families in the world’s poorest regions, the G8‘s action strategy should:
Apr 16th, 2010 8:18 PM UTC
By Rena Pacheco-Theard
A study published in The Lancet this week reports that maternal mortality has declined significantly for the first time in decades. The study, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and conducted by researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, found that the number of women who died during pregnancy annually fell to an estimated 342,900 (uncertainty interval 302,100—394,300) in 2008 from 526,300 (446,400—629,600) in 1980, representing a 1.3 (1.0—1.5) percent drop in maternal deaths each year since 1990. These findings come after years of no perceived progress.
The divide between these estimates and those reported earlier by the UN (which still estimates around half a million maternal deaths annually, but is expected to release new data later this year), underscores the need for better development statistics and consistent measurement methodologies. When we have accurate statistics, we can effectively target interventions and tailor our approach to priority areas.
Despite the wide uncertainty intervals surrounding the numbers, the message of progress is clear. The study credits a number of factors for the drop in maternal mortality, including lower birth rates, increased educational attainment for women, higher incomes, and better care during delivery.
Six countries were found to account for over half of all maternal deaths: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Additional, targeted efforts are needed in these priority areas.
This study also emphasizes the link between HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health, finding that one in every five maternal deaths in 2008 was related to HIV. In the absence of HIV, annual maternal mortality would have dropped to 281,500 in 2008, supporting arguments for the increased integration of maternal and child survival programs into mechanisms like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Some countries showed an unexpected increase in maternal mortality, partially attributed to better reporting, such as the U.S., Canada and Norway.
These new data should drive accelerated efforts to use proven interventions to save the lives of mothers around the world. The study should also call attention to the importance of better development statistics to target interventions, and the need for those interventions to reflect the integrated nature of health issues on the ground.
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.